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Subaru's sales jump this year is helping to push sales of all-wheel-drive-equipped vehicles to new highs.

With nasty winter weather dominating the headlines the past few years, it would seem people are buying vehicles better equipped to handle the elements: sales of all-wheel-drive vehicles have risen five percentage points in five years.

Nearly one-third – 31.3% – of new vehicles sold through September were equipped with either all- or four-wheel drive. This is up from 26.3% during the same nine-month span of 2008, according to data from Polk, an automotive research firm in Southfield, Mich.

While Mother Nature may have played a small role in the increase, more likely it’s the rising sales of crossovers and small sport-utilities as well as companies that feature AWD vehicles, such as Audi and Subaru, that have spurred the change.

Audi and its decades-old Quattro all-wheel-drive system have spent each of the last few years setting new sales records.

Subaru, also known for making AWD standard on most its models, posted a 28.3% jump thus far in 2013. Also helping to push the leap is the adoption of all-wheel-drive by several new luxury sedans, such as the Buick LaCrosse and Jaguar XF. In fact, nearly every Jaguar shipped to the United States comes equipped with AWD or four-wheel drive.

(Audi rolls out four versions of new compact for 2015. For more, Click Here.)

Perhaps the most interesting part of the rise is the fact that rise in AWD comes despite a significant premium in the cost – averaging $2,000 more compared with front-wheel drive vehicles.

(Click Here for Subaru’s latest introductions.)

One might point out that auto sales have been booming recently; however, from 2008 through 2011, sales of AWD vehicles increased by more than 4%, but industry sales were down during the same period.

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